Making a Career Goal for 2014

Though positivity is usually the setup for success, when it comes to resolutions, pessimists may actually have the upper hand. Surprised? Think about it – how many New Year’s Eves have over-achieving optimists spent making unattainable lists of resolutions, only to let them fall to the wayside throughout the year. More than they would like to acknowledge, and probably too many to count. So what should you do, stop creating goals?

Of course not! We’re merely suggesting that there is an art to creating achievable, realistic goals. The right way to get motivated for 2014 is to create a reachable goal that will help you in the short-term and bring you closer to your long-term aspirations. By formulating a feasible goal, you can build the framework to carry that goal to fruition and stay committed to fulfilling it. If you’ve picked the right goal, the bigger picture will be more accessible, and by the end of the year, you’ll have improved yourself professionally in many areas without ever having needed to make extra resolutions. Here are steps to take to create an achievable career goal for 2014.

Start by pinpointing areas that need improvement

In order to formulate your resolution for the year, you’ll want to brainstorm areas in need of improvement, such as your work performance or an area of expertise you would like to expand upon. In order to improve, you’ll also have to pinpoint your negative habits and map out how you hope to combat them. For instance, do you ever show up late, or procrastinate and constantly find yourself scrambling to meet a deadline? Write down your bad habits, as well as good habits you would like to develop, and things you want to do differently.

Think of your long-term career goals

Depending on your personality, your inclination may be to think in the long-term, instead of the present and near future, which is another great place to start. You may have goals that will be impossible to reach in just a year, but can be made much more doable through the steps you take in the present. Contemplate your ambitions, and map out the steps you’ll likely need to take to get there. For example, by becoming an impeccable worker in the upcoming year, you can set yourself up for a promotion, and bring you that much closer to the paycheck and respect you hope to achieve. Ask yourself questions such as, “What skills do I need to achieve my long-term ambitions?,” and “Which industry do I want to be in, and where should I focus my efforts to make that a reality?”

Assess what’s realistic for you

Let’s go back to our example of becoming a diligent worker. This can be accomplished by always showing up on time, consistently fulfilling your duties, staying on everyone’s good side with thoughtful and considerate actions, and helping your coworkers. Depending on how hard you work, this can be a real possibility, but there is a chance that you’ll be adding too much on your plate at once. We recommend that you work on one goal at a time, so you can say at the end of the year that you improved yourself in at least one real quantifiable way.

For instance, one goal you can work on throughout your year is to enhance your professional value. You can do this by taking a course, getting a certification, or becoming a volunteer. This is a great approach to bettering yourself because there are concrete steps you can take to be successful in meeting your target. Another plan of action is to join us for our 12 days of career advice, in which we outline how you can refresh your professional presence each day for twelve days.

Do it

This is the hardest and most significant phase in fulfilling your goal – doing what you’ve set out to do. One fun fact is that when you set goals, your brain produces more dopamine, which is a great motivator. However, when you over-shoot, your resolve breaks and you find yourself giving up. Start small and build your way up so that you don’t feel overwhelmed, and stay committed to your goal. There’s a reason why you set that specific goal for yourself, and with the potential to improve your life in the big picture, there are sacrifices worth making in the present so you can have the life you want, and be the professional you want to be. As long as you stay focused on the benefits of your efforts, you’ll have the clarity you need to keep going.

Make the most out of your success

If you have successfully turned your bad habit around or have been doing something differently, congratulations! Make that improvement work the most for you – if you’re hoping for a raise as a result of your hard work, be sure to document all your accomplishments, instances in which you’ve gone above and beyond what was required, and any praise that is thrown your way. Get the most you can out of your energy and effort by creating short-term goals that will better you and positively affect your success in the long-run.

So, what’s your goal? Maybe you want to gain more responsibility in your current position, or further your education to open yourself up to more opportunities. Maybe you want a second source of income. Whatever your goal, plan ahead to increase your opportunity for success, and know, that anything worth getting usually can’t be attained easily. With that, we wish you a happy 2014, and a great goal-making, brainstorming session.